Which Order Picking Technology is Right for Your Operation?
The Right Picking Technology Can Transform Your Operation
In warehouses and distribution centers, performance equals profits, hands down. And when picking operations account for an average of 55% of operational costs, an inefficient system can make the difference between red and black on the bottom line. For many managers, improving warehouse picking efficiency is a top priority, and choosing the right warehouse order picking solution can have a significant impact on accuracy, productivity, and efficiency.
Choosing the right pick technology for your workforce can also help overcome operational and labor issues. The right match between picker and technology can help decrease employee learning curves, increase employee satisfaction, and reduce turnover.
When it comes to distribution center picking, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Your size, your budget, and the industries you serve should all factor in to your decision. There are four main types of order picking technologies.
- Paper picking. Used in small and mid-size warehouses, the ERP prints a list of items and quantities for each customer order. Pickers use a pen or pencil to check off items as they are picked, then every pick on every order is checked before the order gets loaded onto a truck for delivery.
- Hand-held RF Picking. Used by small to mid-size warehouses looking for a paperless option, this technology uses hand-held RF device that display orders. The picker picks the item and scans the product UPC code with the warehouse picker scanner.
- Voice Picking. Used by mid- to large-size warehouses with warehouse management systems (WMS), this system gives pickers a headset with microphone, and the voice system tells them a bin location. The picker goes to the bin and reads the check digits that are printed on the pick bin into the headset, then chooses the product and affixes a preprinted delivery label on to the packaging.
- Hands-free Scanning Technology Solutions. Used by distribution centers with 5-75 order pickers, many feel this is the gold standard for accuracy. With this technology, order pickers wear a wrist computer with a ring scanner, which enables the pickers to have both hands available for picking products. The display screen on the wrist-worn computer directs pickers to their next assignment and location.
We performed a deeper dive on each pick technology and have outlined the pros and cons in a white paper, available for download here, so you can discover how to stop picking errors and improve productivity in your operation.
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